United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Import Tariffs

Includes information on average tariff rates and types that U.S. firms should be aware of when exporting to the market.

Last published date: 2021-09-22

Customs duty is assessed on the fair market value of imported goods at the time they are landed in the UK. Import prices for products entering the UK generally consist of: Cost, Insurance, Freight and Duty, with standard VAT of 20% levied on the aggregate value. VAT is reduced to 5% for some goods and services such as children’s car seats and home energy. VAT is further reduced to 0% for certain goods such as food and children’s clothing. More information on VAT can be found by visiting VAT Rates.

The commercial invoice value is usually accepted as the normal price, but if a preferential arrangement has been established between the overseas supplier and the importer, or an unrealistic value has been declared, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reserves the right to assess a fair market value for duty purposes. The duty is payable at the time the goods are imported, but established importers can defer payment for, on average, 30 days. In addition to customs duties on imported goods, an excise tax is levied on in-country sales of alcohol, tobacco, and road vehicles, and on sales of oil and petroleum products.  The applicable import duty and excise tax rates can be obtained from U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Centers.

Responsibility for meeting customs obligations at import falls on the importer of record. Incoterms – international commercial terms used for cross-border movements of goods – establish the obligations of the seller and the buyer, including which party is responsible for import.  

For example, under Ex Works (EXW), the buyer is responsible for everything from export clearance at the start of the journey to import clearance and payment of customs duties at the end of the journey. At the other end of the spectrum, all obligations are placed on the seller under Delivered Duty Paid (DDP). The importer of record will need customs data, systems, and resource in place to manage the associated compliance responsibilities.

To view Trade Tariffs, commodity codes, duty and VAT rates, please visit HMRC’s Tariff Commodity Look-Up page.